Members at the well-attended May 3 Annual Meeting unanimously approved the nominated slate of Executive Board Officers and new or re-elected Board Members (See the slate of nominees here.)
Steve Howard thanked all the retiring board members for their efforts. Richard Rosenthal received a special thank-you for his many years of service as MRIA’s legal counsel. As Richard put it, “If I would have known this was a temporary position 15 years ago, I never would have taken it.” He’ll continue to be involved while Lisa Robinson takes over as chair of the Legal committee.
In his valedictory address as outgoing MRIA president, Steve Howard said he’s very remarkably proud of the neighborhood. He cited short-term wins since last year’s annual meeting, including tripling the involvement with the No Boundaries Coalition, launching Parties with a Purpose to raise both money and awareness, and a recent chili fundraiser spearheaded by MRIA’s Churches and Schools committee to help fund a week-long camp for sixth graders at Mt. Royal Elementary and Middle School.
Despite the city’s ongoing problems, Steve said he sees much good that is already happening, and urged everyone to continue their efforts and truly make Baltimore “The Greatest City in America.” He finished by encouraging members to “nurture the Bolton Hill spirit” and share it throughout the city, saying, “It is in giving that we receive; it is in sharing that we grow.” Read Steve’s full remarks.
Steve also distributed three Recognition of Service Awards: to Brande Neese for her many years of service on the graphic design and layout of the Bolton Hill Bulletin; to Peter Van Buren for his leadership with transitioning the Bolton Hill Bulletin to an online presence; and to Richard Rosenthal for his many years of service as MRIA legal counsel.
Guest speaker Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater discussed some of the stories he’d worked on during his five years at the paper.
When starting as a new Sun reporter, Luke was given the City Hall beat and broke the story on the Baltimore Grand Prix’s financial troubles, revealing their jilting of the city and non-payment of taxes. After the articles ran, the Grand Prix operators finally paid their back taxes.
He also spoke of investigations the Sun has conducted into falsified speed-camera tickets, erroneous water bills, and lead poisoning in children. After each of the stories, the state or city government moved to enact reforms. The city cancelled its speed camera program and refunded $9 million in water bills to city residents, and the state increased funding for lead poisoning inspections.
He talked about being among the group of reporters who filed a complaint against the city government for approving, in secret, a tax-increment financing (TIF) deal with Harbor Point developers. When the Open Meetings Compliance Board supported the reporters’ contentions, the city was forced to make future meetings open to the public. He is currently tracking the TIF deal for Cove Point, which he feels deserves close attention.
He also discussed covering the unrest surrounding the death of Freddie Gray and the recent city elections. With more than 140 candidates on the ballot, the election drew more than 130,000 voters – a large increase from the 74,000 who voted in the 2011 mayoral primary.
Despite a series of cuts to staff over the years, the Sun’s work over recent months earned the paper the distinction of being named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news. Luke recognized his fellow new reporters who have been recently added to the dwindling staff. He assured the audience that they would continue to investigate and report on local issues, as befits the role of a free press.
Many thanks to Luke for sharing his evening with MRIA.